California Health Insurance: Can You Save With High-deductible Plans?
In California, health insurance companies offer what's known as high-deductible health insurance
. You typically get lower premiums on plans that don't cover your healthcare until you've spent $5,000, $10,000 or more out-of-pocket in a year.
High-deductible plans aren't the only way to cut healthcare costs. Here are other ideas that can help you keep your medical bills low so you don't reach that high-deductible amount.
Reduce Your Prescription Costs With Creative Ideas
Whenever you know you'll need a prescription long-term, you can save with mail-order delivery. It's available for many common medications, and you can get a volume discount on a 90-day supply. Imagine getting an entire year's worth for a single shipping fee. Search online for "mail-order delivery prescriptions" and ask your doctor to write your prescription for a three-month supply with three refills to get a year's worth.
You can also ask your doctor about generic drugs, which offer the same potency, purity and safety as name brands at much lower prices. Your doctor may even have samples that can help you when money is tight.
It doesn't hurt to ask your pharmacist about ways to save either. Ask whether your medicine comes in different strengths. You may be able to buy a double-strength version for the same price, cut your pills in half with a "pill splitter" and lower your prescription costs by 50 percent overnight. Most pharmacies carry pill splitters, and you can find them for sale online.
Be sure your doctor agrees that's appropriate with your medication, and keep a sign-off sheet with your prescription where you write down when you cut your pills in half. It will probably be obvious by the size of the pill, but you don't want to swallow a double-strength pill when you're in a hurry by mistake.
You may also be able to cut out some of your medicine for good. Have your doctor review all your medications annually. Show her what over-the-counter drugs, supplements and herbs you take. Your doctor might say you no longer need one, or catch a possible interaction.
You Don't Need Health Insurance Plans in California For Lab Tests
You may not have heard that certain labs offer services directly to the public for substantially lower prices than if you go through a doctor. These lab-testing companies may use the same lab as your doctor, but cutting out the middleman helps to lower prices.
You can get diagnostic lab work at surprising savings. A Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (which shows blood glucose, HDL and LDL cholesterol, liver enzymes, total cholesterol, triglycerides and several other factors) could cost $250 from a doctor or hospital. It's only $45 at one of the direct-access labs.
California Individual Health Insurance May Have High Deductibles For Hospitalization
Since a typical daily hospital charge is about $1,000 or $2,000, you could spend a lot before you meet your deductible and your health insurance starts footing the bill. Be aware that hospitals charge shockingly different prices for the same procedure. You can get dental work, cosmetic surgery, or even knee replacement or bypass surgery from board-certified doctors in foreign hospitals that cater to Americans.
Americans are increasing traveling as "medical tourists" to get healthcare at a fraction of what it would cost in the U.S. It's becoming so popular that agencies coordinate medical tourism. PlacidWay is a health tourism company that connects you with healthcare providers at a location you select without a fee. Doctors from PlanetHospital will also consult with you to recommend surgeons and facilities and even arrange for your treatment abroad.
If you stay here at home, you may be able to save simply by reading your hospital bill. Whether by honest error or fraud, hospitals are estimated to overcharge by about $1 billion a year. How can you avoid becoming a victim?
Call the billing department before you're admitted and ask what your room charge will be and what that includes. If it doesn't include something you'll need, like Kleenex, bring your own. Do that with medicine, if the hospital will allow it, to avoid paying inflated prices as an inpatient.
Don't pay your hospital bill when you leave. Look it over and compare it to the estimates you got from your doctor and the billing department. Get clarification of miscellaneous or lab fees or anything thing else that isn't defined.
It's Not That Hard To Save On California Health Insurance
Combine all of these approaches, including high-deductible premiums and low-cost prescriptions and lab tests with the best prices on hospital procedures, and your savings can really add up quickly.
It also pays to comparison shop for plans whether you are looking for California Family Health Insurance or California Individual Health Insurance. With hundreds of different plans from several insurers, California residents have a wide selection of plans at a range of prices.
by: Wiley Long
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